Scotland’s hospitality and tourism sector has been in crisis since the pandemic began and there is no end to the uncertainty in sight.
The UK Government has protected almost a million jobs in Scotland, delivered unprecedented levels of funding for business support and has extended the furlough scheme until September 2021.
Rishi Sunak has also extended the cut in VAT for hospitality and leisure businesses. These businesses will continue to pay just five per cent in VAT until the end of September and then just 12.5 per cent until April 2022.
There have been inexcusable delays in getting funds to businesses from the SNP. The Scottish Hospitality Group said earlier in the year that restaurants, hotels and pubs in Scotland were receiving significantly less support per day compared with the sector in the rest of the UK.
And with their disappointing so-called ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, the SNP have left hospitality and tourism businesses out in the cold.
The Scottish Conservatives have put forward proposals to break this administrative logjam and get funding to businesses now. A 10-day turnaround guarantee and expanding the grants available would be a welcome first-step towards restoring business confidence, which has hit rock bottom.
We also suggested a coronavirus business advisory council. This group of representatives from the most-affected business sectors, including hospitality, could give advice at the heart of government on the setting and introduction of restrictions, ensuring that public health concerns are weighed against economic concerns and that any guidance is rooted in practical concerns. However, the SNP have, so far, continued to ignore our proposals.
It’s absolutely vital that hospitality businesses get the support they need and deserve as soon as possible.
Once again, I thank you for taking the time to contact me on this issue.